Böhmermann’s complaint against Federal Republic of Germany dismissed

Published On: 16. April 2019

Today, the Berlin Administrative Court decided that TV presenter Jan Böhmermann has no right to demand an omission of the Federal Republic of Germany in connection with statements of the Federal Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel in a telephone conversation with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu regarding the so-called „poem“ on Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and Turks.

In April 2016, the spokesman of the Federal Government of Germany announced that the German Chancellor and the Turkish Prime Minister had agreed that this so-called „poem“ was a „deliberately infringing text“.

The plaintiff Böhmermann considered himself injured in its basic rights by the statement of the Federal Chancellor Merkel as well as the statement of the spokesman of the Federal Government of Germany at the Federal Governmental Press Conference which reported about the phone call of Davutoğlu and Merkel.

In the pre-trial Böhmermann called on the Federal Chancellor in vain for a written cease and desist. In May 2018 Böhmermann sued the Federal Republic of Germany for omission; In the alternative, he sought the court’s ruling that the public statement „deliberately infringing“ of April 2016 was unlawful. The Berlin Administrative Court dismissed the action.

Böhmermann’s injunction was inadmissible, because a repetition of the offending statement was not to be expected. Merkel had already distanced herself from her statement in April 2016.

In addition, the defendant Merkel had ruled in the court proceedings a repetition. The public statement was not unlawful. The Chancellor could rely on her competence as head of state.

The constitutional requirements for state communication were respected, the objectivity requirement was not violated. The statement does not constitute a criminal conviction, but is an acceptable value judgment based solely on the text of the so-called „poem“.

In addition, the declaration had expressly emphasized the high value which the Federal Government attaches to the freedom of the press and expression. Therefore, it was irrelevant for the assessment of the utterance, whether the so-called „poem“ in the context considered allowed satire.

The public statement upholds the principle of proportionality. It is justified by the public’s interest in German-Turkish relations and by the aim of transparent government action. By contrast, the declaration did not entail undue disadvantages for the applicant.

The Turkish community in Germany accuses Böhmermann of having used racist clichés against Turks in his so-called „poem“. „That was no clever satire, that was an insult. Despite all legitimate criticism of Erdoğan’s policy, the partly racist images in the poem are unacceptable. Böhmermann have shot over the target“, said Gökay Sofuoğlu, chairman of Almanya Türk Toplumu, an association of liberal Turks in Germany which is in opposition of AKPARTİ.

The fact hat Sofuoğlu’s and other secular Turks in Germany heavily oppose Böhmermann’s so-called „poem“ proves that this „deliberately infringing text“ caused outrage among the Turks regardless of their political or religious orientation.

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